Did I Subscribe to This?

Here is a email that I received first thing this morning.  The subject of the email was “Start Your Day with Better-For-You Choices.” 

The question is, who do you think sent me this email?  The logical response would be Dunkin’ Donuts, but even though I like their coffee, I have not subscribed to their email list.  Anyway, this email was not sent by Dunkin’ Donuts, and it wasn’t from some other mass-marketing list or spammer.  It was actually sent by a top-tier professional sports franchise, one that I did request emails from.  Any guesses? 

This email was sent by the New York Yankees, which is amazing because I do not see a single reference to the Yankees anywhere in this content, not even in the subject line.  The only things in the email that refer to the Yankees are the from-address (“From yankees.com”) and appropriately enough, the unsubscribe message at the bottom.

I know I’ve written in the past about the challenges of involving your sponsors in your email marketing.  My main point has been that the email needs to connect with the fan because of their relationship with your brand (team/league/etc) and deliver a sponsor message that builds off that connection.  This email here is borderline spam – in fact, this is damaging to the fan relationship because the primary action it will drive is opting-out.  The Yankees might have the ability to get away with things that other teams can’t, but abusing your customer database with an irrelevant sponsor-based, mass-marketing email is always a bad decision.

6 thoughts on “Did I Subscribe to This?

  • January 14, 2009 at 12:55 pm
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    They really should know better. I can imagine the marketing meeting – “hey we can send an email about breakfast at breakfast time.”

    this kind of thing has to be relevant.

    well done for calling them to account.

  • January 14, 2009 at 1:02 pm
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    I worked for an NBA team and was on their e-marketing team right around the time e-blasts were really coming to fruition. We used to do this for our partners, and others did this for us, but as you say in your post, it was always clear it was directed at our fans, from us. We never made it appear as the sponsor was the one sending the e-mail, that’s just bad practice.

    I think as the web is evolving, especially with companies using social networking sites, it’s becoming clear that they need to be as transparent as possible. If not, the individual loses respect for the organizations intentions.

  • January 14, 2009 at 1:31 pm
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    I don’t believe this leaves much in doubt – that this is “not” an example of what Seth Godin had in mind when he first talked and wrote about “Permission Marketing”

  • January 14, 2009 at 2:17 pm
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    The sad part is i don’t think anyone’s saying they can’t send out an e-mail promoting Dunkin Donuts. It’s just we would expect if you’re going to send it out from the Yankees e-mail list you’ll at the minimum put a little effort in and tie it to the Yankees.

  • January 14, 2009 at 2:27 pm
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    Exactly Isaac. For example, I’ve previously seen Joba Chamberlain in commercials for Dunkin Donuts. Putting aside for a moment that that is probably a individual contract between DD and Joba, how about an email that promotes a contest to meet Joba in spring training, sponsored by DD and their new $1.99 healthy breakfast meal? Now you’ve connected back to the passion of the fan base and integrated the sponsor’s product and message.

  • January 15, 2009 at 3:56 pm
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    Very surprising that MLBAM would permit this. They usually seem to be on top of making sure messaging is tied back to yankees.com, MLB.com. Their business survives on keeping their database engaged with relevant material.

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